JR De Guzman: This Fil-Am stand-up comic is a charmer

The boyish 30-year-old — the only stand-up comic who creates music and delivers jokes at the same time — is topbilling a one-night-only show at the Theater at Solaire on 3 June

Award-winning Filipino-American comedian JR de Guzman is slated to do a one-night-only show, Later That Evening, at The Theater at Solaire on 3 June, produced by ABS-CBN’s MYX Global.

De Guzman was born in Pangasinan to parents who are both Pinoys, who took him and his siblings to California when he was just two years old. His dad is a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy in Baguio City. JR is actually Anthony de Guzman Jr., the youngest in a family of four children.


The boyish 32-year-old charmer began his stand-up career 12 years ago. He took up a musical comedy class at the University of California, Davis and found success through college shows.

In 2016, he emerged grand winner of Stand Up on NBC and recipient of a one-year talent holding deal with NBC Universal. In the same year, he was among the young comedians featured on the TV show Kevin Hart: Hart of the City. Hart is a well-known Black American actor whose career began as a stand-up.

In 2017, De Guzman was named as a “New Face” at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal, Canada. His quarter-hour special on The Comedy Lineup streamed on Netflix in 2018, which then led to a world tour in 2019 that included stints in Stand-Up Tokyo and the ROR Comedy Club in Japan, the Jokers Ball in Indonesia, the Badaboom Comedy Series in Amsterdam and many other international shows.

Named one of Variety’s Ten Comics to watch in 2022, De Guzman is coming over to the Philippines fresh from Singapore, as part of the Asian leg of his latest world tour.

After Jo Koy, a Fil-American who was last here in August 2022 for a single show at the Mall of Asia Arena, De Guzman is the other Fil-Am stand-up guy Americans and the world at large have been watching.

Jo Koy, born in the Philippines in 1971 to a Filipino mom and an American father, was five months away to being 40 years old when he began periodic performances in the Philippines in 2011, specifically in Manila and Cebu. (Koy’s real full name is Joseph Glenn Herbert Sr.)

Another US-based Fil-Am stand-up, Rex Navarrete, who used to do homecoming shows in the Philippines, was already 35 when he began turning up in Manila for shows. He was here in 2002 for free shows at Greenbelt in Makati, courtesy of the Zobel de Ayalas. He came back after a few years and gave ticketed shows. He was last in town in September 2015 for a two-night show at A. Venue in Makati.

J.R. De Guzman found success through college shows.

Local stand-up stars

As far back as the ‘80s and ‘90s, Nanette Inventor, Tessie Tomas and Willie Nepomuceno were enjoying fame and fortune as stand-up comedians, often playing only one character to the hilt in shows that were mostly held in that fabled but now demolished venue, Rizal Theater in Ayala Avenue, Makati.

Inventor was loved and lapped up by the crowds as the nouveau riche Doña Buding. Tomas was all fun as Imeldific, a parody of you-know-who. Mitch Valdes in the 2000s lorded it over as a political satirist. Nepomuceno impersonated both the most famous and most infamous, including actors and the country’s presidents. Television comedian Jon Santos followed suit with impersonations of the well-loved and the deeply unloved, likewise eliciting uproarious guffaws.

By 2000, comedy bars had begun to mushroom all over Metro Manila, with people willing to spend more for live entertainment. Among these bars that had nightly stand-up acts and gags were the The Library, Punchline, Laffline, Klowns and Zirkoh — the latter two owned by Eat Bulaga host Allan K, whose career also began in stand-up comedy.

Well-loved movie-TV comedians Ai-Ai de las Alas and Vice Ganda also honed their laugh-drawing skills in those comedy bars, which all closed down when the pandemic struck in 2020.

The economy was good in the first decade of 2000s, so people really had money to spend on live entertainment.

The visiting De Guzman has a most unassuming look for a stand-up comedian. When he saunters into the stage, he looks like he is going to serenade you. He walks in with a guitar, which he plays while cracking jokes.

He is the only stand-up who creates music and delivers jokes at the same time. As soon as he gets in front of the mic, he polls the audience to suggest a topic he can sing and joke about. He is ready for any topic, common or controversial, light or serious.

De Guzman is gifted with a gentle singing and speaking voice. He seems to be incapable of screaming. He is aware of how cool he is because, for all the times he has told someone in the audience to “shut-up” or “f—k off” with a chuckle, no one has taken offense. Like many Fil-Am stand-ups, he liberally pokes fun at his family, primarily his dad who is doing a cameo in Later That Evening.

Joining De Guzman in the show are fellow Filipino comedians Red Ollero and Ryan Puno for the opening acts.

And, oh, Jo Koy is aware of De Guzman. The latter in fact opened for Jo Koy at his Madison Square Garden show in September last year.

Tickets to Later That Evening are available via  www.ticketworld.com.ph and at Solaire Box Office Level 2. Showtime is 7 p.m.

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